Most citizens know street sweeping helps keep their community clean, but few realize it can also help prevent water pollution. Regular sweeping with vacuum or air sweepers picks up pollutants that would otherwise wash into storm drains and natural water bodies.
Move your car on street sweeping Everett days to ensure that your streets are swept effectively. One parked vehicle can prevent three cars’ lengths of curb from being swept.
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It Prevents Pollution
In addition to the aesthetic benefit of sweeping streets, street sweepers significantly reduce pollutants from paved surfaces into stormwater drains and sewers that eventually travel downstream to rivers, lakes, and other natural waters. This is important because the pollutants can cause environmental damage,, including contaminating drinking water, decreasing aquatic habitats, reducing oxygen levels essential for fish and other aquatic organisms, or even making people sick if they consume tainted seafood or drink contaminated rainwater.
The EPA’s Clean Water Act mandates that municipalities have a best management practice (BMP) in place for reducing pollutants from urban areas. The EPA has found that street sweeping using modern, vacuum pavement cleaning equipment is the only non-structural BMP that is highly effective at removing contaminants in urban stormwater runoff and is also an excellent source reduction practice for extremely small-micron particulate material that fouls urban air quality.
For example, nutrient-rich litterfall from streets is a major contributor to phosphorus loading in many urban water bodies. This phosphorus can interfere with aquatic vegetation growth and negatively affect surface water quality. Street sweeping can significantly decrease phosphorus inputs from the landscape by preventing it from washing into catch basins and storm sewer systems.
It Prevents Water Damage
The main reason why street sweeping is so important is that it picks up harmful substances that are contaminating the environment. If these toxins are left on the streets, they can enter storm drains and eventually end up in our streams and rivers. Street sweeping is considered a best management practice (BMP) for preventing stormwater runoff contamination.
In addition to reducing pollution, regular street sweeping prevents pavement damage. Over time, dirt, sand, and other debris can wear away at the road surface, causing potholes and cracks. By removing these materials regularly, you can help to avoid costly repair and maintenance costs.
Studies have shown that sweeping can be more effective at reducing pollution than other costly methods like building detention ponds and sediment filtration systems. Watch this 39-second video that shows clean water messaging being applied to county sweepers to see the impact that regular sweeping has on protecting our waters.
It Prevents Water Absorption
The water that makes up our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans is one of our most important natural resources. It’s essential to protect it, and this is a great way to do so. By incorporating a routine street sweeping program into pavement maintenance, municipalities can help prevent pollutants from being washed off paved surfaces and flowing into storm sewers and surface waters.
Without the help of street sweepers, pollutants can co-mingle with stormwater and surface water, creating harmful conditions for human and animal life. By regularly removing organic and inorganic debris from streets, sidewalks, and parking lots, street sweeping helps to reduce these contaminants.
It’s important to remember that parked cars can block the path of street sweepers, so be sure to remove your vehicle from the roadway on a scheduled street sweeping day. This will allow street sweeping crews to provide the most effective service possible.
It Prevents Sediment Buildup
An unswept street, sidewalk, or parking lot can quickly build up a layer of sediment on top of the surface. This sediment may clog storm drains or lead to street flooding when it rains. This is a problem because contaminated sediment can run into nearby rivers, lakes, and other natural water sources.
Street sweeping helps prevent this by regularly picking up the dirt and debris that would otherwise be washed into stormwater drains and surface waters. Sweeping also helps control the quality of stormwater runoff. For example, studies have shown that sweeping regularly (every other week) can significantly reduce the amount of sediment and sediment-associated constituent loads in the stormwater-runoff system of residential neighborhoods.
Residents can help by moving vehicles from the street on scheduled sweeping days to enable the crew to sweep more effectively. They should also avoid blowing or raking yard waste or leaves into the streets. Instead, they should place these items in green waste containers to avoid clogging storm drains or entering local surface and ground waters.
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